Vignelli’s Design Bible


Not a lot of people understand or know the details of design, but everyone’s a critic of design. Constantly we judge objects on their style, fashion, lines, curves, colors, texture, and abilities. One product that everyone is guilty of judging is a car. At one point in your life, you had to have said a car was ugly, it was cool, it was ok, or it looked like a spaceship.

I agree with Vignelli and some of his design principles. Here are a few quotes that I most agreed with and or thought were the most important from the text.

  1. “Semantics, for me, is the search of the meaning of whatever we have to design”
  2. “Design without semantics is shallow and meaningless but, unfortunately it is also ubiquitous”
  3. “Actually, we can say that appropriateness is the search for the specific of any given problem. To define that prevents us from taking wrong directions, or alternative routes that lead to nowhere or even worse, to wrong solutions”
  4. We cannot stand Design that is weak in concept, form, color, texture or any or all of them.
  5. We like Design that is clear, simple and enduring. And that is what timelessness means in Design

For all of these quotes, I will use cars as an example and to explain their importance. Number one is the backbone of design, and it answers the question of “Why?”. You are searching for a reason, a  purpose for a car you want to build. Why did Dodge put over 700 HP into their Hellcat?  They wanted to make the most intimidating, tire shredding, exhilarating experience you can have while doing donuts and getting groceries at the same time. Number two quickly follows suit. Shallow, boring, poorly engineered cars are a nightmare. Most often a nightmare to look at, and to work on.

Appropriateness guides the designers to their end product. How do we envision it being used? What exactly is needed here? Do we really need this much? For a car manufacturer like Rolls Royce, nothing goes unnoticed. Everything is thought of, planned, tested, and strictly quality controlled to get the perfect luxury vehicle.

Four and five work together. We can’t stand ugly cars like the PT Cruiser, it’s hard to believe at one point those cars were new. That design was definitely not timeless and was even weaker.

And here I am, judging design as if I know more than everyone else.


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